Today [8th June] is World Ocean Day and the perfect opportunity to introduce the UK’s first marine Landscape Partnership scheme and brand-new project team in the North East: SeaScapes.

Durham County Council secured National Lottery support via a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £2.8m, matched by partner contributions and volunteer time, for the exciting marine landscape partnership heritage project, SeaScapes.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, SeaScapes is a partnership of organisations across the natural, cultural and heritage sectors that have come together to better protect and celebrate the unique coastline and marine environment to six nautical miles out between the rivers Tyne and Tees.

Benefiting communities in Durham, Hartlepool, South Tyneside and Sunderland, the SeaScapes scheme will deliver 23 projects – both on-shore and beneath the sea – over the next three years.

The full project title is ‘Tyne to Tees, Shores and Seas – SeaScapes Partnership’, elaborates on the wider remit and critical effort needed both above and below the sea to unite people and planet, and protect what’s important across our communities.

The SeaScapes project is led by Durham County Council and consists of a consortium of partners united in their collective mission to influence support and increase protection of our sea and coastline.

The seven-strong core team comprises Delivery Manager, Karen Daglish, and three team members from Durham County Council: Access and Volunteering Coordinator, Vicky Ward; Finance and Grants Officer, Peter Carr; Beach Care Advisor, Louise Harrington. Plus, three further team members representing partner organisations: Intertidal Interactive Project Officer, Dorinda Kealoha (from Durham Wildlife Trust); Bluescapes Officer, Sarah Campbell (from the National Trust); and Creative Producer, Suzy O’Hara (from the University of Sunderland).

The team’s collective experience spans over 100 years and their passion for marine and environmental conservation is palpable through an array of relevant experiences spanning marine engineering to environmental science and marine mammal medicine.

SeaScapes’ core focus for 2021 and beyond is for the communities and individuals up and down the Tyne to Tees coastline to start to feel more connected with the sea. SeaScapes’ activities are designed to inspire coastal communities to take a walk on the beach, look out to sea and question what lies beneath the waves.

Karen Daglish, SeaScapes Manager, said: “There are stories waiting to be told from the Zechstein Sea, through ice ages, wars and significant industrial history up to the present day. However, they are not our stories to tell, they belong to the communities, so we are really excited to start our engagement programme and discover more about this special coastal and marine environment.

“We want people to start to question how they interact with the ocean, and how being by the ocean has influenced their lives. Also, how we, as humans, have impacted on the Tyne to Tees marine environment over time, and how this in turn will lead to positive action to better protect our marine landscape.”

Lawrence Brown, Chair of SeaScapes, said: “As we emerge from Covid-19, having seen so many people take great comfort and support from being next to, in, or on, the sea, now is the time for stakeholders to engage with the SeaScapes project and realise the difference their efforts can make.

“Many studies have shown that spending time by the sea has a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. With visitors to our coastline more than doubling over the last year, it is a great opportunity to shed more light on why the Tyne to Tees seascape is special and deserves more attention.

There are lots of activities that communities and businesses can get involved in over the next few years including:

  • Regular beach cleans
  • Family oriented activities on the beach, such as rock pooling
  • Habitat surveys and habitat creation of the Durham Argus Butterfly on coastal cliffs
  • An exciting Citizen Science programme
  • Community archaeology exploring coastal defence structures
  • Field names survey to trace how townships have evolved around the sea
  • School projects looking at how communities change over time as their relationship with the sea has changes
  • Shipwreck dives with Newcastle University and local dive clubs
  • A programme of on water activity – sailing, canoeing etc.
Plastic Free River Wear

Did you know that litter dropped on the street miles away from the coast doesn’t stay there. Rainwater and wind carries plastic waste into streams and rivers, and through drains eventually leading to the sea. SeaScapes have joined forces with the Wear Rivers Trust and partners to look at way of reducing plastic entering rivers at […]

Beneath the Waves – Wrecks dived over the August Bank Holiday weekend

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend, the Beneath the Waves Team and volunteer divers spent three days diving wrecks from South Shields to Sunderland. After the recent bad weather, the team were treated on the Saturday with nearly mirror calm sea conditions and sunny weather! The divers paired up and were briefed on each dive […]

Operation Seabird – Protecting Marine Wildlife

The SeaScapes Team and partners held one of the first Operation Seabird Action Days at Roker, Sunderland on the 9th of August 2023. Operation Seabird is a national initiative that was set up by the RSPCA and the Police due to an increase in reports of marine wildlife disturbance. Marine wildlife is protected by the Wildlife […]

Great British Beach Clean September 2023

Thank you to everyone who came out and helped to clean our beaches during the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean. An amazing 109 volunteers came out throughout the week and collected over 80 bags of litter. As well as cleaning up our coastline, the volunteers note down all the items they find in […]

Community Grants Scheme – Round 2

SeaScapes is excited to launch the second round of the Community Grants Scheme. The scheme aims to enable communities, groups, and organisations to devise and deliver their own projects that celebrate, protect and cultivate stewardship of our coastal and marine wildlife, and marine heritage – be that natural, built or cultural heritage. There will be […]

Ocean Action Conference 2023

This one-day Ocean Action Conference organised by community interest company Climate Action North, in partnership with marine safety specialist Swiftwater Solutions and leading coastal project Explore Seascapes, will take place at The Grand Hotel on Seaburn seafront in Sunderland. It will bring together experts, businesses, ocean practitioners, and marine biologists to discuss the challenges faced […]

Volunteering – a win-win experience for everyone!

The SeaScapes Partnership relies on a team of amazing volunteers to help deliver our projects. It’s not just a case of turning up to do a few hours work, our volunteers give their time and skills for free so it’s only fair that their experience is rewarding and fun. Volunteering provides people with a sense […]

Using our coast to improve your health and wellbeing in 2023

As the new year arrives, it’s common for people to resolve to make positive changes to their lives. These new year resolutions often involve commitments to improving individual health and wellbeing and living next to the sea gives us a unique opportunity to do this. Studies have shown that simply spending time outside in nature […]

Tender Opportunity: Digital Design and Interpretation

SeaScapes is looking for a provider to review and identify walking routes, design and produce associated walking route leaflets (digital format) and maps for the Connecting the Coast project (this also includes identification of a new safe walking route linking local communities with the England Coast Path), and to review and redesign existing walking route […]

Tender Opportunity for Digital Interpretation

SeaScapes is looking for a digital interpretation provider to deliver 3 x 3D Virtual Interactive Field Trips as part of our Reading the Rocks project in collaboration with the University of Durham. For full information about the opportunity and for all enquiries and queries, please visit: SeaScapes Partnership – Reading the Rocks Virtual Field Trips […]

SeaScapes Vacancy – Access and Volunteer Officer

An exciting opportunity has arisen to join the SeaScapes team as the SeaScapes Access and Volunteer Officer. If you are passionate about our coasts and seas, our heritage and people, and have experience in community engagement, working with volunteers and volunteer management, and grant funding, this could be for you. This is a fixed-term position […]

What’s in a name?

The ‘Field Names Survey’ project aims to survey all 16 townships along the Tyne to Tees coastline in order to identify potential new archaeological or historical sites or activities of interest to archaeologists and historians. Using a range of heritage investigation and recording activities that complement documentary and map information, local volunteers have been exploring the […]